Are you a member of Generation X? If not, I’m sure they are among your co-workers, friends, and family. Look around you.
Gen X’ers are turning 50 in large numbers, and they are celebrating big time with extravagant birthday parties and lots of friends. While this small generation ( born between 1965 and 1981) has been widely sandwiched and overshadowed by the larger generations of Baby Boomers and Millennials, they have transformed society on many levels, and are undetected influencers of its younger and older generations. They are the parents of Millennials, and the children of Boomers. They were dubbed the “MTV Generation” and “latchkey kids”. The first generation to grow up without a large adult presence with both parents working, perhaps leading to Gen X’ers being more peer oriented than previous generations. They brought hip-hop music main stream, put alternative-rock on the map, invented music videos and made indie films cool. Whenever I listen to music or watch TV shows from the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties, I remember that I missed this generation by a few years (okay, more than a few). I somehow missed “House Music” (a genre of electronic music created by club DJs and music producers in Chicago in the early 1980s), and I never rushed home from work to catch “Friends”, although I love watching the re-runs.
Generation X has come of age. They are entrepreneurs, CEOs, and music moguls. At work, X’ers are taking management roles and mentoring their younger coworkers, while championing work-life balance. Gen X’ers, incidentally, are among the most highly educated generation in the U.S.: 35% have college degrees vs. 19% of Millennials. X’ers like Elon Musk (Tesla Motors) have created innovative startups whose explicit aim was to make the world a better place. Many others followed in Musk’s footsteps with 55% of startup founders being members of Gen X. Gen X’er contributions to society include Google, Wikipedia, Amazon.com, and YouTube. Women of this generation occupy the “C Suite” at large tech companies; notably Marissa Mayer, former president and CEO of Yahoo; and Cheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook.
The memory of growing up in a computer-free world is still fresh to Gen X’ers, who built the bridge from analog to digital. Consequently, most are tech savvy, much like Millennial “digital natives”. They know how to use social media with ease: 81% of Gen X is on Facebook and 5.9 million have Snapchat accounts. They are the quiet bridge between two generations that get all the attention, Millennials and Baby Boomers. I learn from their comfort level with technology, their insistence on work-life balance, and their thought-provoking perspective on topics from parenting to politics.
Cheers to Gen X as they celebrate 50! It’s your time!
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